Saturday, October 21, 2017

Fall Fun Series II: Pumpkin Soup



Confession: I have baked nearly a dozen pumpkin pies in my life, yet I have never actually cooked a fresh pumpkin. 
That recently changed about a week ago. 

This recipe for pumpkin soup calls for canned pumpkin, which is all well and good, but I did want to try my hand at making it with fresh roasted pumpkin and it turned out quite well!

Pumpkin Soup with Brie Croutons

1 large Granny Smith apple
2 tablespoons of butter
1 small diced sweet onion
2 (15 oz) cans of pumpkin puree OR two small pumpkin pie pumpkins
4 cups of chicken broth
2 teaspoons of salt
1/2 teaspoon of pepper
1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon of ground nutmeg (and I added ground cardamom too)
2 cups of half-and-half
pepitas (pumpkin seeds) for topping
real maple syrup for topping


I washed then cut the pie pumpkins in half.


Scoop out the guts and seeds (save the seeds for roasting if you wish or to add to the soup, I tossed ours outside for the birds to eat).


Hollow pun'kins. <3


Place pumpkin halves cut side down in baking dishes and add 1/4 inch of water and bake in the oven at 350 degrees for 45 minutes to an hour. Cool, then scoop out the flesh with a metal spoon. You can store the cooked pumpkin flesh in the fridge for up to 5 days. 


I found the fresh pumpkin to be preferable to the canned and I look forward to baking my very first fresh pumpkin pie this Thanksgiving. The scent held notes of squash and warm watery gourds and a touch of mellow sweetness akin to sweet potato. 


Now on to the soup! 


- Peel and core apple, dice. Repeat with onion. Preheat stockpot on stove at medium. Melt butter and add apples and onions and sauté for about 8 minutes or until softened. 

- Add pumpkin puree (or fresh scooped pumpkin!), chicken broth, salt, pepper and spices. Stir and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and add half-and-half. 

- Use either an immersion blender (stick blender) or food processor to blend the soup mixture. Place pot back on the stove at low heat to keep warm. 

Brie Croutons

1 loaf of bakery bread (breakfast bread works well with this but I chose sourdough)
1 (8oz) wedge of brie
butter
sea salt
fresh thyme if wished

- Cut bread into 8 (1 inch) slices, arrange 4 slices on a cutting board. Thinly slice brie and place on the four slices, top with remaining four slices of bread. Butter the outsides. Basically, make a grilled brie sandwich. Cook the sandwiches in the pan on medium heat until golden brown, crisp and the brie is melty. Sprinkle with sea salt and thyme and slice into strips or serve alongside the soup. 

Garnish the soup by sprinkling in the pepitas and adding a generous swirl of maple syrup. Throw in the brie croutons or serve on the side. Or both.


The girls do not enjoy pumpkin pie so when they heard I was making pumpkin soup there were some moans and groans. They were surprised (as was I) that they actually liked it. Adam enjoyed it too and so did my mom. I will be making this again next year. The brie. Mmmmmm! And if you are curious... the spice is minimal and not overly noticeable but adds nice flavor. 

Pumpkin soup! What say you?

Friday, October 20, 2017

Beezy Tarts: July Pre-Order


Beeeeeeezzzzzyyyyyyyy!!! It has been a long time. I melted my last Apple Clove Butter a while back and have been Beezy-less ever since. He opened up for pre-orders in July and I knew I wanted to have some more Apple Clove Butter in my home for the holidays. I tacked on a few more that I love as well as some new ones. He exclusively sells in scent shot form and they run $1.85 each and shipping was $10.28. He does not combine shipping so when shopping Beezy make sure you get all you want in one shot. His pre-orders do come with a lengthy TAT but then once those ship out he does an RTS sale much like Lasting Scent Candles. I don't mind the wait so I went for the pre-order.

Lavender Pound Cake is a pleasant bedtime fragrance. The lavender is sweet and mellow with a hint of vanilla. Not herbal, not detergent but maybe a touch fabric softener. It is nice nonetheless with the added pound cake goodness. 

Mrs. Claus' Cookies smells like a classic sugar cookie decorated by your kiddos and set out as Santa's treat. Iced with the hues of Christmas in royal icing and sprinkles. 

Pink Sugar Cookies I grab whenever I see it. Nothing fancy but a crumbly bready sugar cookie blended with Pink Sugar. 

Sugar Cookie Royale houses a rich chewy cookie with a hint of vanilla and butterscotch to tickle the senses. I love this fragrance oil.

Coffee Cake & Spice bakes up warm and fragrant with the classic coffee cake and crumbles aroma topped with cinnamon and extra vanilla drizzle. It almost reminds me of cinnamon rolls or French toast but more cake. Love. 


Country Bumpkin mixes up all the most delicious things of the season... candied yams, apples, brown sugar, marshmallows and heaps of spices. Deb turned me on to this scent years ago and anytime I run across it, I add it to my bag. The yams really do add that almost rooty rich note to an otherwise familiar blend of apples, spice and vanilla. I love it. 

Pumpkin Caramel Swirl oozes with caramel goodness and pumpkin richness. Very little spice. 

Apple Fritter is a new one to me. It almost reminds me of CFTKR's Baked Apple. Very similar. Excellent.

Pumpkin Sugar Donut hints at a nicely spiced banana bread with pumpkin puree added. I think I want to bake that now. I am on a Pumpkin Sugar Donut kick this year. Loving it. Beezy's is sweeter and more caramelized. 

Apple Clove Butter, the classic. Applesauce and spice. So very very good.


Peppermint Meringue fluffs up with airy vanilla and melty peppermint sticks. I am really loving this peppermint blend.

Pink Peppermint sends me off to dreamland and Beezy's is quite nice. Heavier on the Pink Sugar than the peppermint but very nice all around. 


Cider Lane was missing from my collection this year so I wanted to grab one for tradition's sake. Why do I forget how much I enjoy this scent? Creamy caramel and apples with a touch of fall leaves in the air. 

Sugared Spruce came along for the ride. Sweet Christmas trees. Simple yet wonderful. 

Crackling Birch fills the nose with a smooth suede like woodsy blend of bergamot, patchouli and vetiver. There are other notes in abundance but those three stand out to me the most. I have had this scent before from other vendors but I am quite happy with this one too. 

Marshmallow Fireside quickly jumped in my cart because I know Beezy won't do a dupe unless it is darn good. This Marshmallow Fireside is everything. If I close my eyes and smell it, I would swear to you I am inhaling an actual Bath & Body Works candle of Marshmallow Fireside. Why did I only get two???

Frosted Pinecone is another new one for me from Beezy. It smells of evergreens, softwood and needles, meshed with vanilla fondant. 


Free samples:

Homemade Cookies is incredibly good. Rich vanilla cookies with a dash of rum extract and maybe a drop of almond extract in the buttercream frosting. Buttery and sweet. 

Crunch Berries smells exactly like the Captain Crunch cereal with an extra does of sweet and tart berries. I can almost feel the cuts on the roof of my mouth when I smell this. 

My only regret? Not getting more Marshmallow Fireside. Rest assured. I won't be making that mistake again. Did you order Beezy? Doesn't his wax have the best texture ever? I actually split his tarts sometimes and I rarely ever do that with a vendor. My only gripe? His lids often split on me. But bagging is no trouble if it means I have Beezy on hand. 

Thursday, October 19, 2017

ArtiSun Bath and Skin Care

These products were sent free for reviewing purposes from ArtiSun. 


Suzanne Finley, the soaper and creator behind ArtiSun Bath and Skin Care, sent me a bountiful collection of bath and body care items to dive into and slather all about my person. Most of the products will be discussed today and the candle will be a feature for another day. Let's start with one of my very favorite things... bar soap!


I love my bar soap. And my husband and girls use it too. These generously 4.5 ounce sized bars run $7 each and come in several different highly scented (or Naked!) aromas. 

The Detox bar features activated bamboo charcoal and is ideal for oily skin. I have oily skin and acne problems from time to time so this bar is perfect for my face. This bar smells softly of bamboo and mildly sweet green tea. The darker color did not leach or saturate anything in the shower or my skin which is great. It is slightly drying (since it is for oily skin) so I don't recommend it for drier skin types. I liked how it performed on my face and will keep a sliver in the shower for that purpose. 

The Lavender bar is a wonderfully serene blend of herbal lavender coated in a fine layer of sugar. 

The Patchouli bar holds a balanced blend of earthy yet almost floral patchouli scent. It is nice to have a classic patchouli to bathe with. This one lathered beautifully and left my skin squeaky clean. No residue but it felt a touch tight and that "extra clean" feeling. It was easily resolved by applying some lotion like I always do post-shower.


Look at these colors and swirls. <3



Witchy Woman is a Nag Champa scent and I love the fragrance, colors and dried flowers and herbs sprinkled on top. 


Pumpkin Souffle is a limited edition scent just for fall and uses both organic pumpkin and buttermilk to lend vitamins and lactic acid for soft exfoliation. It smells like a sweet pumpkin spice treat.


I love the frothy and creamy look of this soap. 



With the dozens upon dozens of handmade bar soaps I have used down to mere slips of soapy ghosts I must admit... I have never used a loofah soap. 


Why have I not been using a loofah soap?! I love it. My feet have been suffering from wearing ballet flats to work without socks almost everyday. They are a bit dry and not as soft as I am used to maintaining them. This scrubby soap seriously packs an exfoliation punch. Add in the rich delicious scent of Pumpkin Spice and I am sold. Confession: I used to really look my nose down at glycerin soaps. I never really enjoyed the lack of lather, the tight dry feel after rinsing and general feel of glycerin soaps but between this one and the ones I have had from Moonalisa I need to be more open minded. This one feels creamy and rich and holds the scent in a saturated manner that I appreciate. ($6)


A Pumpkin Spice Bubbling Bath Fizzy was tucked in among the cornucopia of smell goods, and it couldn't have come at a better time as I was slap out of bath bombs. This is a nice sized bath bomb that covers my palm and smells richly of the same Pumpkin Spice that the soaps carry. I love the sweetness added to the pumpkin pie spice. ($4) It was one of those slow fizzers that seems to last several minutes. I love that. It left nourishing water with a foamy fizzy layer of fragrant bubbles on the surface. I would repurchase in a heartbeat.


The ArtiSun Bath and Skin Care Natural Deodorant in Lavender and Tea Tree is pretty good stuff. It uses coconut oil, baking soda, magnesium oil, mango butter, beeswax, arrowroot powder, cornstarch and essential oils (lavender and tea tree in this one) to control odor. I actually really enjoy the texture of this natural deodorant. It glides on more like one of those cream to powder formulas that this nice and clear and smooth. No chunks of white in this stuff and one swipe is all that is needed. I have worn this deodorant for several days now and it ranks right up there with my Handcrafted Honeybee and Dirty Goat (though Dirty Goat still gives me some white chunky stuff issues but the probiotic goodness and scents makes up for it). ($10)

Lavender Luxurious Body Oil (4 ounces for $12) hits the spot for nocturnal ablutions. The steely herbal lavender essential oil combines with olive oil, grapeseed oil, avocado oil, sunflower oil, jojoba oil, and argan oil. It nourishes the skin and smells lovely. The scent does fade after a few hours but putting it on before I go to bed still gives me all the fragrant effects I need. 

My first ArtiSun experience has been very positive. I can tell Suzanne puts a lot of time and effort and passion into her products. The soaps are of nice quality and highly fragrant. The deodorant is a hit for my needs and I love the bath bomb and loofah soap. Her website is easy to navigate and the photos look pleasing. I enjoy the listing of ingredients and the scent descriptions. The only drawbacks were the settling in the scrub and lotions. I did not review them in depth but the scrub was the oil based type. They were both about half full and I am not sure if that was because I was sampling the items or that was how much is normally in the container. I am featuring the candle next week but spoiler... I love it. 

I won't hesitate to return for a bar of soap, a deodorant or bath bomb. You can get 15% off by signing up for their newsletter. 

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Nui Cobalt Designs: Autumn Perfume Oil Release


Nui Cobalt Designs is a quaint little magical internet store that offers a nicely curated collection of handcrafted items from jewelry to candles, tea to perfumes and bathing goodies. I have purchased several Arcana Wildcraft perfume oils from Nui Cobalt Designs in the past but now that Forest has tried her hand at perfume crafting I knew I wanted to give them a go. These scents are $19 each. 

Starlight and Spider Silk- Notes: Slender strands of cotton flower hung with trembling dew drops, cold crystalline musk and tiny black vanilla beans. 
I love the delicate sweetness of this scent. In the bottle, gossamer strands of vanilla waft out on the fresh cottony tendrils of the evening fog. Weaved into the skin the airy musk of fog creeps its ozonic tendrils across the senses. A vanilla musk softness joins the mist and provides an ethereal fragrance experience. A lovely veil of clean vanilla musk. The vanilla gets fluffier and sweeter as it ages on the skin.


Ominous Orchard- Notes: Crisp apples, young green growth and a wisp of deer musk accord on the chilly air. 
I fell for this apple scent hard. Fresh from the cobalt glass dram my nose picks up apples hanging from trees, plump wild pomes with a wreath of greenery as a halo, and some killer musk that has an almost amber woods accord lean to it. I want to pour the whole bottle over my head and twirl about like an anointed one. Once pressed then grafted into the flesh the apple trees smell of seeds and bark, leaves and speckled apple skin, green with life. As it ages and dries, creaking and groaning wizened limbs drip with apples, clinging like so many droplets of blood in the autumn gloaming.  It smells of heartwood and the resin that runs through the sapwood, sepia musk and haunted hollows. 

Gate of Autumn- Notes: Woodland notes of wild fig, ancient oak, scarlet maple leaves and viscous dark resin.
Gate of Autumn opens up to reveal a lover's lane strewn with tumbling leaves dressed in scarlet, ochre and umber hues and stately oaks standing sentinel along the sides of the path. Once alighted on the skin Gates of Autumn maintains that leafy and oaken feel with the addition of golden amber orbs drifting through the boughs. The fig pulls more green and sappy on my skin rather than sweet and it adds to the bucolic scene quite nicely. 

The sillage is about moderate though I did over indulge in Ominous Orchard today and I can smell it wafting about me quite clearly so I bet others can too. Next time I *might* use more caution but I love my scents so who knows. The longevity was about 5-6 hours.

Forest has proven to be quite the perfumer and I am thrilled with my purchases and look forward to tucking a Nui Cobalt Design creation in my future orders along with an Arcana Wildcraft or two. If you enjoy an evocative scent, give them a try.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Melting Basket 108 and Maggie Stiefvater Geek Out


Another quick and dirty melting basket photo. But I make up for it with the pretty book set up later on, I promise. 

Wax tarts I melted last basket that I loved enough to want to buy again: Glitterati Monkey Bread, VCS Autumn in Salem, Bohemienne Life Third Eye and Saturnus (SO GOOD), CFTKR Vanilla Pumpkin Marshmallow (picked up another bag this past weekend) and Merlin's Forest.

Lasting Scent Candles- Spooky Apparitions
Dessa's Homespun Scents- Cinnamon Garland
Dessa's Homespun Scents- Apples & Cinnamon
CFTKR- Baked Apple
CFTKR- Pumpkin Peppercorn
Bohemienne Life- Pumpkin Forest
The Bathing Garden- Pumpkin Pie Spice
Sniff My Tarts- Dragon's Blood and Apple Cinnamon
Better Homes & Gardens- Fall Into Autumn <3 gift

If you would like any of these scents reviewed in depth, please let me know which ones in the comments. 


Helllooooooooo, Nurse! The beauty of Maggie Stiefvater's newest release, All the Crooked Saints arrived in all its polished and shining glory this past weekend. I pre-ordered this book from Fountain Book Store in Virginia where Maggie will autograph and doodle books for their customers who order from them. I ordered this back in April and paid $19.99 plus a few bucks for shipping.


You may recall my sister and close friend drove up to Jacksonville to listen to Maggie give a brief lecture and do a meet and greet over the summer. It was a great day. 

She not only writes books, but also is an artist and musician. She sketched out the owl in the front cover and then painted this intricate owl portrait which was made into a bookplate and signed by her. 


She also signed the inside title page. I just finished up a book a friend of hers wrote, Blood Magic, but now I am ready to dive into this tome. Other Maggie Stiefvater books I recommend: The Raven Cycle starting with The Raven Boys, The Scorpio Races, The Wolves of Mercy Falls series starting with Shiver and hopefully this one too. She has a faerie series as well but I have not started it. 

What are you currently reading? Have you visited any pumpkin patches or engaged in any fall time fun? I am so ready to melt that Apples & Cinnamon and crack open this book. THOSE OWLS!!!!

Monday, October 16, 2017

The Bathing Garden: Halloween Order


I kept my Halloween Bathing Garden order modest this year, two scrubs, four clamshells and that calls it a day. Evernight (A Lush Twilight dupe of musky sugared lavender and lilacs) is a forever favorite so I picked up a clamshell and scrub in that scent. Scrubs are generally $9 for 8 ounces unless they are specialty scrubs. Tarts went up from $3.75 to $3.95 but I don't remember the last time Shannon had a price raise so it is well overdue. I am glad she did that for herself. At the time of ordering everything was in stock so her new business model isn't the grab and dash I had feared so far. Whew.


How gorgeous is the Faded Opulence scrub? I just love how this rich spiced orange fizzy scent translated to the scrub. Vivid and energetic. 


Boozy Vlad- Notes: Shaved pumpkin, maple coconut sugar, buttery brown sugar, dark booze soaked nutmeg and a sprinkle of dried clove buds. 
The name and the notes completely sold me. And I am thrilled I picked it up. It smells a bit like a more smooth and creamy and softly spiced version of BBW's Pumpkin Coconut. I like that candle a lot but this one is even more yummy. I like the bit of bourbon and spice added. 


Faded Opulence- Notes: Clove, ginger, blood orange and bubbling cola.
Orange spiced ginger ale indeed. I don't know why I love it so very much but I do. I just want to squeeze that skully's zygomatic bones and then melt his face off so my home smells spooky good. 


Evernight- Notes: Lavender, lilac, eucalyptus, soft woods, white musk and sugary vanilla.
Shannon's Evernight/Ever Night/whatever night always tickles my fancy. I remember the overwhelming pleasure I felt as cracking open my very first Twilight shower gel about 5 or so years ago and this tart brings that feeling back every time I melt it. I generally get a nice throw from this one and I use it in my bedroom on the regular. Sweet musky lavender with just that small breath of lilacs and woods and a heaping helping of sugar. Mmmmm.... yezzzzz. 


White Magic- Notes: Shaved cinnamon, orange tea and hints of spicy patchouli.
This is the only new scent I sprang for in a clamshell this year. Mostly because I am a sucker for spiced oranges and patchouli and oranges and this merges both into a trifecta of coziness that will warm my deep winter nights. I am sure one of the girls will be prying that sparkling gemstone out soon for some type of art and craft project.


Three free samples this go 'round:
Bohemian Solstice tart, chilly fruits and musk.
The Winter Queen tart, marzipan and other things. Love that tree.


Mini scrub sample in Wolfsbane Bites, I like this one in the tart but not sure about in the scrub. Minty cookies. 

I love this order, though tiny it is full of yummy fragrances. Did you get anything from Shannon's Halloween collections? Are you thinking of placing a holiday order?

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Nocturne Alchemy: Santalum


Santalum by Nocturne Alchemy- Notes: Alexandria sandalwood, coconut husk, golden amber accords, golden sandalwood resin, deep fossilized amber, golden Himalayan cedarwood, gold patchouli and golden frankincense. ($27)

There is a reason why the adjective gold or golden is used to describe so many of these notes. This fragrance shines in just that manner. In the bottle my nose captures glints of wooden ambers and twiggy patchouli. Brushed into the skin, the cedarwood and fossilized amber rises like a shinning ruby and glowing gold phoenix, warm and then drifting down into ash. The scented phoenix settles into a nest of fresh cut sandalwood shards to doze. I love sandalwood and I love this scent. It is breathtaking on its own and, in addition, beautiful mixed with other oils and perfumes. 

This perfume is part of NAVA's studio limited collection.

I don't have a Fall Fun Series post today, as the craft my sisters and I will be doing this year is scheduled for next weekend. But I do have a post ready for then and I will come back to this prompt at a later date. Thank you for being patient with me this week. I am missing some posts. Life is in 5th gear. 


I signed up for my first college course since 2007, which was way back when I graduated with my Masters. I am a little nervous about adding school into an already busy life at the moment but I have to in order to get my teaching certificate renewed. In the classroom I am in the midst of our first big project of the year. At home we are dealing with Savanna having some type of painful itching rash in her cast so it has to be removed every few days, medicated and then a new one reapplied. And today we are headed an hour and a half away to try and trade-in my lemon of a Jeep for one that is not so sour. All hands on deck, Granger.

I am blaming the full moon. 

I do have some exciting (for me anyway) posts coming up very soon. A new perfume/candle company, a new soap/body care company, some more healthful wildcrafted goodies from Kings Road Apothecary and a pretty mug or two. My Beezy order and The Bathing Garden order landed and there are some stunning cake waxes from Candy Panda that made me swoon. Sadly, my Cosmic Cleanse order arrived very damaged but Heidi is a super star and will be sending some replacements soon and I will feature those as well. 

How is your October chugging along? Is the moon throwing any excitement your way?